It's that month of the year again! That month where Santa Claus would drop down by the chimney to present some gifts to those little boys and girls who were nice and not naughty. The month where everybody gets busy just to buy a gift and give it to their loved ones. But how do we celebrate Christmas here in our country? Read the full article below and celebrate this jolly season with us!
Christmas here in the Philippines starts with the usual houses you always see adorned with Christmas lights. It’s with that moment you realize that Christmas is getting near. Usually, some households would place some Christmas decorations as early as October.
By around late November, you’ll be surprised when some children go in front of your gate singing Christmas Carols. It’s up to you if you have or are in the mood for some Christmas Spirit! If you do, then you have to give a couple of Pesos to the kids. Also, you would hear Christmas songs (I might guess 65% from Jose Mari Chan) all over the radio. That would basically remind you that Christmas is warming up.
Being a student in a public or private school (or one who works in an office), one could never get away with the so-called “Christmas Party”. This signals the end of school days on December and opens the door to Christmas Vacation. If you are a parent, you would find yourself asking your children about their gifts for their “Secret Santas”. On day 1, it has to be something red. On day 2, something soft. On day 3, something sweet. And the list goes on and on and on. This also goes for the people who works in the office or in some other establishment.
The moment Christmas vacation arrives, one has to stretch out his arms and get ready for a very long vacation. One must never forget to buy Hamon de Bola (because I think without this, Noche Buena is meaningless) as early as possible.
Everybody actually gets busy with Christmas. Banks are always full, people queue up in the cashier booths, children grab a lot of toys and gifts because their Papa or Mama would come home from overseas… such are scenes that you would see on the height of Christmas vacation. Simbang Gabi, a nine day Roman Catholic ritual novena performed in the Philippines, starts nine days before Christmas. It ends on December 24. Most Filipinos would bravely wake up by 4 in the morning just to attend the 9-day Simbang Gabi. What do they get from that? A grateful wish for a better health and a better life in the coming new year.
But the most cherished moment during Christmas is on… of course, Christmas Day. Well actually, the thrill starts on the morning of December 24, the Eve of Christmas. People get busy baking and cooking foods in preparation for the Noche Buena! A lot of Filipinos would attend Misa de Gallo or Midnight Mass. This also marks the end and the final mass of Simbang Gabi. Filipinos after that would cater to their hunger pangs and thirst for some puto bumbong (a purple colored rice pastry, seasoned with grated—coconut and brown sugar), tsokolate (a hot chocolate drink), bibingka (flour and egg cakes cooked on top and under), and salabat, or ginger tea, which are sold by vendors to the faithful outside the different churches and parishes here in the Philippines.
Come 12:00 AM of December 25, children would wake up and see their gifts under the big Christmas tree. Almost a lot of the children would receive toys from the make-believe Santa Claus, while parents and other siblings would lovingly hug and greet each other “Merry Christmas”.
After ransacking Santa Claus’ gifts, children together with the whole family would proceed to the dining table and enjoy their Noche Buena. One would always find lechon, bibingka, hamon de bola, quezo de bola, spaghetti, fruits, pancit, lumpia and rice on the table. Desserts include ice cream, coffee, pastries and cakes. The adults would indulge in wine or beer to celebrate the meaning of Christmas.
To end, spending a Christmas in Philippines with a Filipino family is awesome. But also, we should never forget that it’s not all about the activities that we do during the lengthy time of the season. It’s also that time we should remember the One who is the reason why we are celebrating Christmas. :-)
Merry Christmas everyone!